Historical records matching Francis D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne, 12th Duke of Leeds, KCMG
About Francis D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne, 12th Duke of Leeds, KCMG
12th and last Duke of Leeds, a close friend of the late Queen Mother from her youth.
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Holy See from 1936-1947 and one of the group led by Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty who helped conceal some 4000 escapees, both Allied soldiers and Jews, from the Nazis; 3925 survived the war. Their story was portrayed in the 1983 film 'The Scarlet & The Black' ('an inspirational tale of moral courage, human spirit, sacrifice, compassion, forgiveness and altruism' according to the Wikipedia article), in which Gregory Peck played O'Flaherty, a real-life Scarlet Pimpernel, which some consider to be Peck's best film. Peter Burton (1921-1989), the first 'Q' in the Bond movies, played D'Arcy Osborne. The film was based on the book 'Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican: Hugh Joseph O'Flaherty' by J P Gallagher. D'Arcy Osborne was, in this sense, a member of a real-life 'League of the Scarlet Pimpernel'.
Sir D'Arcy, as he then was, used his own money to help to provide food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment for the fugitives. D'Arcy Osborne also played a key part in a plot in 1940, which involved the Pope and certain German generals, to overthrow Hitler (See Owen Chadwick, 'Britain and the Vatican During the Second World War', 1988, Cambridge Paperback Library, p. 86 et seq.); had this plot worked it would have averted the Second World War.
Major Sam Derry, in his 'Escape Line', described meeting Sir D'Arcy Osborne in the Vatican in 1943: 'Unruffled poise... Seldom have I met any man in whom I had such immediate confidence. He welcomed us warmly, yet I found it impossible to behave with anything but strict formality. Apart from the restraining influence of my clothing [he was not used to being dressed as a monsignor] I was almost overwhelmed by an atmosphere of old-world English courtliness and grace which I had thought belonged only to the country-house parties of long ago.
Sir D'Arcy was spry, trim, a young sixty, but he had spent years enough in the diplomatic service to develop an astonishing aptitude for creating around himself an aura of all that was most civilized in English life. I felt as though I had returned home after long travels, to find that royalty had come to dinner, and I had to be on my best behaviour.'
At this dinner Derry was in disguise as a Monsignor; afterwards Sir D'Arcy 'offered him the command of the escape organisation'.
He later lived at the Palazzo Sacchetti, 66 Via Giulia, Rome, which contains some of the grandest state rooms in the city. Note, as a matter of interest, that Lady Camilla Osborne (b. 1950) the only daughter of the 11th Duke married Nigel Dempster, the society columnist.